“Atin ang Pinas!”
The Filipino scientist who is among the first humans to reach the third deepest spot of the earth wore a shirt that supported the Philippines sovereignty in the West Philippine Sea.
Dr. Deo Florence Onda, a microbial oceanographer at the University of the Philippines Marine Science Institute, shared that he wore a shirt designed by the UP Marine Biological Society which has the above statement.
“This was the shirt I wore when I went down the Emden Deep. Our waters from the west to the east, north and south. We are a maritime nation! Atin ito,” he shared on Facebook.
“Map includes EEZ (exclusive economic zone), territorial waters and extended EEZ. Pa-zoom na lang. Hehe,” Onda added.
Onda also included the hashtags “#ProtectWestPhilippineSea,” “#SecurePhilippineRise” and “#ConservePhilippineTrench” in his post.
The shirt features a map of the Philippines highlighting its EEZ and some phrases relevant to the West Philippine Sea amid China‘s continued encroachment in the area. Some of these reads:
- Exclusive economic zone
- International treaty limits
- Kalayaan Island Group claim
- Panatag Shoal (Scarborough Shoal)
The UP Marine Biological Society shared a video promoting the shirt last year with the following caption:
“We are taking the movement from the seas to the shore. Wear our history with pride, and become one with the nation in calling for a Philippines for the Filipino people. These are our waters, our lands, our livelihoods, and our home. ATIN ANG PINAS!”
A close-up of the shirt can be seen in the 0:11-mark of the video:
Onda is the sole Filipino researcher invited by the organization Caladan Oceanic to join the Emden Deep Expedition onboard the DSSV Pressure Drop.
Emdem Deep is a 10,400 meter or 34,100 feet deep spot located in the Philippine Trench, found within the EEZ of the Philippines.
The UP Marine Science Institute said that part of the expedition’s goal is “to wave the Philippine Flag in the Emden Deep during its record-setting voyage, highlighting that it is an integral part of our nation’s heritage.”
“Dr. Onda, as the sole Filipino researcher representing the country, will also be given a unique opportunity to be exposed to state-of-the-art vessels capable of deep-sea activities, which can enrich our experiences and knowledge as the Philippines builds its own National Academic Research Fleet, an ongoing national project funded by the Philippine Government,” it added.
Last March 23, Onda shared a video of him with his voyage companion Victor Vescovo, the record holder of the deepest manned descent in the Marianas Trench in 2019.
He then shared that they successfully reached the Emden Deep.
“Sa mga Filipino, ito po ang Emden Deep. Atin ito!” he cheerfully shared.
We've reached the Emden Deep.
We've waved the Philippine Flag.
We've set records.
We have made history today.
This is the Emden Deep of the PH trench. ATIN ITO!
— Deo Onda (@savedeocean) March 23, 2021
He was congratulated by Vescovo for his record-setting voyage.
Congratulations to Dr. Deo Onda of the Philippines for joining me in the first descent to the bottom of the Philippine Trench, the third deepest in the world. It was the first-ever crewed dive there. We spent ~three hours exploring the area and going up its western ridge. pic.twitter.com/ieWB6mLHtW
— Victor Vescovo (@VictorVescovo) March 24, 2021
A look at activities in WPS
The Philippines recently filed a diplomatic protest against China after suspected Chinese maritime militia vessels were spotted in Julian Felipe Reef, which is about 175 nautical miles from Bataraza, Palawan.
Several nations backed the move, namely the United States, Australia, Japan, Canada and the United Kingdom.
The Chinese Embassy in Manila responded that the vessels were “fishing vessels taking shelter” supposedly due to rough sea conditions.
Nevertheless, the Philippine government demanded that Beijing withdrew its maritime assets in the vicinity which is within the country’s EEZ.
“We reiterate that the continued deployment, lingering presence and activities of Chinese vessels in Philippine maritime zones blatantly infringe upon Philippine sovereignty, sovereign rights and jurisdiction,” the Department of Foreign Affairs said in a statement released March 23.
China has been aggressively claiming territories in the West Philippine Sea despite the 2016 United Nations tribunal ruling that recognizes the Philippines’ sovereign rights over such contested areas in its EEZ.